The Metropolitan Police has announced that it’s going to stop positioning police officers outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London around the clock in case Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves the building.
Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy on June 19 2012 because he is wanted by Swedish police over alleged sexual offences (which he denies). Assange is the editor of the Wikileaks whistleblowing site, and is using Ecuador’s diplomatic immunity to avoid arrest and possible deportation to the US over his involvement with Wikileaks.
Police officers have been outside the embassy in London since Assange entered the building in 2012, but today Metropolitan Police announced that it would no longer maintain a 24/7 police presence outside the building.
However, that doesn’t mean that Assange will just be able to walk out of the embassy. Here’s a section from Metropolitan Police’s release:
As a result of this continual review the MPS has today Monday, 12 October withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the Embassy.
The operation to arrest Julian Assange does however continue and should he leave the Embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him. However it is no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence.
Police say that they will use a “covert plan” to try to catch Assange if he leaves the building. It’s not clear what exactly that plan is.